Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

23 July 1637 A.D. Wildcat Emotionalist Woman, Jenny Geddes, Acts with Indecency, Disorder, & Attempted Assault and Battery.

23 July 1637 A.D.  Wildcat Emotionalist Woman, Jenny Geddes, Acts with Indecency, Disorder, & Attempted Assault and Battery.  The Scots then honor her, an out-of-control woman. OTOH, the Goon-Loon from Canterbury and the Hapless English King Charles 1 were worse in many respects.  In light of the stupidity of Charles 1 and Goon-Laud, we cut some slack for the out-of-order wildcatish woman.  We treat that Goon of Canterbury elsewhere—that half-whacked Armininian, Ubiquitarian, Supersitious, and Abusive Billygoat Laud, perhaps the worst Canterbury occupant out of 105, although he has da few competitors for the claim of “loser,” e.g. the reprobatish Arundel.

Mr. Graves gives the standard angle.

Graves, Dan.  “Jenny Geddes Hurled a Stool in Church.”  Apr 2007.  Accessed 13 May 2007.

Charles I, King of Great Britain, wished to enforce his will upon the Churches of England and Scotland. For this and other mistakes, a largely Puritan and Presbyterian parliament eventually lifted his head from his shoulders. Long before that fateful day, however, Charles made one of his most grievous mistakes. He made a tyrant Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest position in the Church of England.

This was none other than William Laud, a stickler for minute forms and details in worship. Like Charles, he wanted to worship as similarly to Catholic forms as the break with Rome would permit. In fact, many English thought that Charles I wanted to return England under the pope. Laud's various changes and tightening of rules seemed a prelude to this. Things got very ugly.

Laud persecuted Puritans fiercely. The Puritans were those who wished to purify the English church of elements carried over from Catholicism--elements which they considered superstitious or erroneous. The revolt against Charles would be largely a Puritan affair, for Puritans had suffered grievously at his hands. Some, like Alexander Leighton and William Prynne were mutilated and jailed.

One of Laud's "innovations," bent on restoring the church to its former practice and power, was the introduction of a new service book. Laud was big on having people bow at the name of Christ and follow all the forms of the service exactly.

The effort to enforce the new service was met with outrage. Some congregations caused such a stir that their bishops wisely did not even try to implement Laud's orders. In Edinburgh, Scotland, however, at a church attended largely by the king's local agents, the clergy determined to follow the archbishop's order. They proceeded to make the attempt on this day, July 23, 1637.

Unfortunately for the dean who performed the revised ritual, the common folk who attended the church went into an immediate uproar, calling him a devil spawn. At that time the women had no pews but sat on stools they themselves brought to church. One, identified as Jenny Geddes, picked up her stool and hurled it at the dean. The outraged populace also threw dozens of other objects at the clergy and, when the bishop remonstrated, a stool was hurled at him, too, but missed its mark.

The crowd had to be cleared by force. Laud's experiment in restoring the high church services had gone badly awry in Edingburgh. Laud himself was imprisoned in 1640 and brought to trial a few years later on charges of high treason. William Prynne, whom he had mutilated, was set as judge over him and gladly returned a guilty verdict. Laud was beheaded.


1.      "Laud, William." Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921-1996.

2.      Maxwell, David. Bygone Scotland; historical and social. Edinburgh: William Bryce, 1894.

3.      Uden, Grant. Anecdotes from History. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1968.

4.      Various encyclopedia and internet articles.

Last updated April, 2007.

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